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How to Print Then Cut with your Cricut | Ultimate Tutorial

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Hi Daydreamers!

Today you are going to learn how to Print Then Cut images with your Cricut Maker or Explore.

To cut printables, stickers, and other types of images, you need to use the Print then Cut setting.

Print then Cut is an option that allows you to print your designs and then cut around them. When you have an element or design set to “Print then cut,” Design Space will send it to your home printer first, and then it will cut it.

This article will cover what type of images you can use, the machine specifications you need to know, Design Space tutorial, the cutting process, and last but not least, what to do if you are having issues with the Print then Cut setting.

If you are a beginner and are still figuring out Cricut’s software, I recommend that you read my fantastic and Ultimate Cricut Design Space tutorial. 

Cricut Maker Cutting a Print then Cut Design
Let’s Create this Project Together!

Are you ready?

Let’s begin!

Print Then Cut Specifications

It would be best to keep in mind a couple of things before you start using this feature.

The first thing to consider is the overall size of your design.

The maximum size of the elements you will be printing can’t be larger than 9.25. x 6.75 inches, and the paper size you need to print on has to be 8.5 x 11 inches; (these settings can’t be changed).

The second thing you need to consider is your machine’s specifications. This is what each machine is capable of.

  • Cricut Explore Family Machines: None of the Explore machines have the capability to Print Then Cut on different colors or very reflective material; make sure to print on white paper with a matte finish at all times.
  • Cricut Maker: This machine has a more powerful sensor, and it allows us to cut on colored and reflective paper. However, don’t use very dark colors or a very busy pattern paper because the sensor won’t be able to detect it either.
  • Cricut Joy: It doesn’t support Print then Cut

What types of images can I cut with the Print then Cut Feature?

You can Print then Cut any image you can upload to Design Space and/or is available on Cricut Access. In other words, anything you can place on the canvas area – where you design – can be printed and then cut.

Also, think beyond images; you can print and cut text you type in Design Space, shapes filled with Cricut or uploaded patterns, and more!

I won’t detail how to upload each type of image because I will be writing a very extensive post about it soon. However, I want to mention 3 types of images and the differences you need to know to have a good experience with the Print then Cut setting.

1) Images With a Solid Background

These types of images are often very busy, or they usually have a solid background. They require extra work because you need to isolate the image you want to cut.

You see, when you upload these kinds of images, Cricut can’t read what the image is all about.

It can only read the edges of it. So, unless you want to cut the whole thing and not something inside it, you would need to delete the background.

These images have certain names and/or extensions and you can recognize them when they end in .jpg, .gif, .bmp.

How a JPG Image looks when uploaded to Cricut Design Space
JPG Images Cricut Design Space

For instance, If you only wanted to cut the word dream and the star behind it, you would need to delete the pink background color; otherwise, you would print the whole design and cut a square.

You can do this in Cricut Design Space very easily, and I will cover how to do it in the step-by-step tutorial.

2) Images with a Transparent Background

These images are the perfect fit for the Print then Cut option because the main image, text, or element you want to cut is isolated and placed on a transparent background.

However, these images can lose some of their quality and look pixelated if you try to make them bigger.

You can recognize them when they end in .png.

How a PNG Image looks when uploaded to Cricut Design Space
PNG Images in Cricut Design Space

Those little grey and white squares represent transparency. Therefore, you don’t have a background to delete, so if you set this image as a “Print then Cut,” the blade will go around the word dream and the star.

However, since this a single image, you can’t separate the star from the word.

3) Vector Images

These are the best images you can use across Cricut Design Space. They are also called SVG or Cut files. The good thing about SVG files is that you can resize them without losing any quality.

You can recognize these images when they end in .svg or .dxf

How a SVG Image looks when uploaded to Cricut Design Space
SVG Files when uploaded to Cricut Design Space

As you can see here, you don’t have the same options you did with the first two types of files. With SVG files, the blade knows where to go and where to cut.

With vector files, you can also edit the star and the word separately, change colors, and other things that you wouldn’t be able to do with either JPG or PNG files.

Here’s the caveat, though; when using Print then Cut with SVG files that overlap each other or have different colors, you need to use the option FLATTEN. Don’t worry. I will show you how to do this on the Step by Step tutorial.

Print then Cut Step by Step tutorial

Let’s put our Cricut to work now that you know what kind of things you can cut and your machine’s specifications.

I know I’ve said more than enough, but I assume you know nothing when you come to read a post. It’s essential for me that all of my readers – a.k.a daydreamers – feel they can follow step by step.

This is a functional tutorial, and It’s not meant to look super pretty or anything like that. It’s meant to teach you all of the possibilities you have with Print then Cut.

These are the following things we are going to use:

  • JPG Image
  • PNG Image
  • SVG File
  • Cricut Design Space Shapes
  • Patterns
  • Free Images from Cricut
  • Text
Cricut Design Space Canvas - Tools that are required for Print then Cut
Tools used are in purple boxes

Ready, Set, GO!

Upload Images to Cricut Design Space

We will be using the images that I showed you at the beginning of this post.

To download the files you NEED to be on a desktop or laptop, click on the button to trigger a download file on your pc.

Depending on your browser settings, sometimes your PC will ask where to save the file, although, most times, the files will be in your download folder.

If the image opens in a new window (this may happen because of your browser settings), right-click on it, then select the option “Save Image As” and choose where you want to save the file.

SVG files look like a web page file when you download them.

Note: We will be doing the full JPG file here (Pink Background) and have you do it with the PNG and SVG file using the concepts I explained on the types of images you could use.

Oh!

And just so you know, I also have a FREE growing library with tons of printables and SVG files ready to be cut.

I would love for you to be able to get access to all of them. It’s 100% Free for my daydreamers (aka subscribers). Check out a live preview here or get access here.

After saving the images on your computer, log in to your Cricut Design Space and then click on the left panel area’s “Upload” button. Then click on the “Upload Image.”

When you do this, a new window will pop up asking you to locate the file on your computer. Search for the image and double-click on it to upload it.

Upload Files for Print then Cut Project on Cricut Design Space
Upload Images

Here we are working with a JPG file; therefore, Cricut doesn’t recognize all of the designs that are in there. If you add it like this, Cricut will Print and Cut the whole square.

For this project, we are only going to use the word Dream and the yellow star. But, before we can do it, we need to get rid of that pink background.

How do we do that?

Easy! Since this design has only three high contrast colors, select the Simple option to modify the file further and click on continue.

JPG File uploaded. Simple Image type.
Select the Simple Option

Here you have different options to clean up the file, and you can play with them to see which one is better. However, my favorite way to do it is by using the little “Magic Wand” on the left upper corner.

Select the “Magic Wand” and then click on all of the pink areas to delete them. It will take a couple of clicks to get rid of all pink. After you’re done, click on continue.

Delete image background in Design Space
Use Magic Wand to delete the pink background

Now you have a transparent background, which means that the blade will cut around the word dream and the star.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Even though this method deletes most of the pink background, a few pink dots are left on the star’s border and the word dream. I decided to continue like that, but you can keep cleaning the file with the eraser tool located next to the magic wand.

On the next step, you will see that you have two options. The first one is to save the file as a “Print Then Cut Image,” and the second one is to save the file as a Cut image.

Select the first option and click on “Upload.”

Upload image as a Print then Cut
Select the “Print the Cut Image”

Out of the three images I provided you with to recreate this tutorial, the JPG one was the most complicated. So, you are ready to upload the other two on your own.

The PNG image – dream and pink star – already has a transparent background so that you would do the same process:

  • Upload Image
  • Select Simple
  • Don’t delete anything with the magic wand and click on continue.
  • Save as a Print then Cut.

The SVG file is the easiest to upload. You only need to upload, name it and finally save it.

When you are done uploading the 3rd file, go ahead and select all files and click on “Insert Images.”

Inserting JPG, PNG and SVG files inside the Design Space Canvas Area
Select all three files and click on Insert Images

All files should now be inside the Cricut Design Space Canvas Area. Most likely, they are all over the place, overlapping each other, and they also have different sizes.

Go ahead and tide up the canvas area, so it looks like the screenshot down below.

Different types of files on the Canvas Area. (PNG, JPG, SVG)
All three designs in Design Space

Watch out! You are about to read the most IMPORTANT part of this tutorial.

If you were going to do this project right now, your machine would only “Print then Cut” the designs with the yellow and pink Stars. (Remember we saved them with this option in mind)

Why wouldn’t Cricut Print then Cut the design with the blue star?

The ANSWER is straightforward. This file is a CUT or SVG file. Whenever you upload these files, your Cricut will assume you want to cut and nothing else.

How do you tell your machine to Print then Cut?

There are two ways to tell your machine that something needs to be printed and then cut. The first one through “Operations” and the second one is “Flatten.”

Different Operations for Maker & Explore

When wanting to “Print then Cut,” your “Operation” always has to be in “Standard.”

The problem with “Standard” is that if you have cut files (blue star and word dream) that are overlapping each other or that also have different colors; instead of cutting around the edges as a whole, your Cricut will cut each design on a different Mat; and, even if you try attaching them, one of the elements will cut through the other one.

Flatten Icon

When using “Print then Cut,” add all of your elements, text, add patterns, and at the end, select them all and click on the “Flatten” tool located at the bottom of the Layers panel.

I know this doesn’t seem very easy. But, I want to explain to you the LOGIC of how things work.

Add extra touches – Cricut Images, Text, Shapes & Patterns

It’s been a lot right?

Take a moment to stretch out, maybe grab some coffee or a snack and let’s explore more things you can “Print then Cut;” And as I just mentioned, don’t worry about “Operation.” yet.

Print then Cut Cricut Images

All Cricut Images can be used with the “Standard” option. They really have cute stuff in their inventory. If you have Cricut Access, your possibilities are almost endless. Over 100.000 thousand images for you to pick from!

To get to them, click on the “Images” icon on the canvas’s left panel. You can search for images, categories, cartridges. You can also search with keywords or filter them.

If you want to use something free – as I did – click on “Ownership” and select the option “Free.” To find the exact image I used, type in “Dream Believe Achieve” on the search box.

Adding a Cricut Image for a Print then Cut project.
Select the Dream, Believe, Achieve Image

Once you find your favorite image, select it, and then click on Insert Images. I was not too fond of the original brown color, so I changed it to black.

Changing colors of Cricut Images.
Change Color of Cricut Image

Add Shapes and Patterns

I want my image to be on top of a shiny circle.

To add a circle to the canvas area, click on the “Shapes” button located on the canvas’s left panel. After clicking on the circle, a grey circle will appear on the canvas area.

Add a Circle and fill with pattern for Cricut Print then Cut Project.
Add a circle and fill it with a beautiful Cricut Pattern

Let’s change that grey color and by adding life with a beautiful pattern. To do this, select the circle and change the operation from “Basic” to “Standard Print then Cut,” then click on the little square to change the “Print type” for “Pattern.”

Now you get to pick your favorite Pattern. Cricut has hundreds of them, and they seem to be free for now, so take advantage of this! I really liked the rainbow one.

After picking your pattern, place the image (Dream, Believe, Achieve) on top of the circle and center it.

Tip: Most likely, the circle will be on top. To bring the image forward, right-click on it and select move forward.

Add Print then Cut Text

Text adds so much value to any design!

“Print then Cut” wouldn’t be the same without it! To add it, click on the text icon located on the left panel of the canvas area.

I added the same word twice to share a point with you.

If you are using paper, it most likely is that you want the text to be together. If you leave the word on its own, Cricut will cut each letter; and If this is what you want, great. However, if you want the whole word to remain together, you need to place it on top of a shape.

Add text to Cricut Print then Cut project
Add text: Alone or on top of another shape

For this case, I added a square and unlocked its proportions to make a rectangle; then, I changed the color for yellow and typed daydream on it.

Easy, right?

Flatten and Resize your Design

We are a couple of steps away before we cut this project!

Do you remember the talk we had about “Operation” and “Flatten”? Since we are done with all of the designing, we need to tell Cricut that all of the images, text, and shapes need to be Print then Cut.

If you look at the layers panel – on the right – you will see that not all of the elements have the “Print then Cut” attribute; some have only the “Cut” option.

However, as I explained, you can’t just change the operation from “Cut” to “Standard Print then Cut.” You need to compress all of the elements that make this project into ONE SINGLE LAYER.

To do this, select all of the images, text, and shapes and click on the option “Flatten” located at the Layers panel’s bottom.

Notice that after flattening, you only have ONE layer!

Now that we are done with the designing process, click on that “Make it” now button.

Note: Remember that the final size can’t be larger than 9.25. x 6.75 in, so if your design is bigger, select the already flatten layer and resize it before clicking on Make it.

Make it – Cutting Instructions

Finally!

It’s cutting time!

The following screenshot is what you see when you click on “Make it.” This preview shows you how your print should look like.

You need to make sure that you place the paper on your Cricut Mat the exact way you see it here after you are done printing.

Mat Preview before Printing and Cutting.
Make sure everything looks the way its supposed to

One of the questions I get asked the most is how do I get rid of the black box for “Print the Cut?”

Unfortunately you can’t get rid of it!

The black frame that contains all of the designs you want to cut is a reference for your Cricut to know where to cut.

Printer Set-Up and Printing Process

Finally!

After leaving the mat preview, you will be given the step by step to cut your project.

The first option is “Print,” and it has a button that says “Send to Printer.” Go ahead and click there.

A little window named “Print Setup” will open. From this window, you will be able to choose your printer, add extra copies to your project, turn on bleed, and/or use your system dialog box.

Print Setup Screenshot  from Cricut Design Space
I always leave Bleed ON

The “System Dialog” is useful if you need to find your printer, change the type of paper you are using, or want to save your project as a PDF and print it in a different location.

If your printer is already connected to your computer, you can leave this option off.

I usually have “Bleed” on and “System Dialog” off.

System Dialogue Cricut Design Space.
System Dialogue (I keep it off most of the times)

Now…

Can we just talk about bleed a little bit?

Understand Bleeding once and for all

I decided to print this project with both “bleed ON” and “Bleed OFF.” So let’s take a break to see the results, and then let’s resume with our the step to step tutorial.

The official definition of bleed in the Cricut word can be found in the “Printer Setup” window, and It says: “Bleed extends ink slightly beyond the border of image to eliminate a white margin once the image is cut.”

Check out the following photos and let’s chat about bleed a little bit more.

The first photo may scare you or may not because I am warning you. But the first time I saw this, I thought my “Print then Cut” wasn’t working at all.

Don’t you think it looks extremely weird?

Thankfully I was wrong. As you can see, Cricut Design Space extended the ink in every place the blade was supposed to go. Notice that inside the designs, the fonts look just fine.

Although Cricut’s sensor is really powerful, there’s little room for error. The bleed prevents your Machine from cutting inside and outside of the place where it is supposed to. For instance, photo number two shows no white border on the cut made with the bleed option ON.

This is even more evident in the 3rd photo when you can see the “Bleed ON” option was very uniform, and none of the cuts had an undesirable white border.

Comparison of different designs being cut with bleed On and Bleed Off
Bleed ON Top – Bleed OFF Bottom

When I turned Bleed OFF, all of the designs had a white border on some parts of the cut.

So which one should you choose? That’s up to you to decide. I like the bleed ON for all of my projects.

Now, let’s get back into our step by step tutorial.

Select Materials, Arrange Mat & Cut

After you print; it’s time for you to choose the material you printed on.

Screenshot to select material, install blade, and go in Cricut Design Space
Choose Materials, Install blade and Go!

If you have a Cricut Maker, you need to choose the material from Cricut Design Space. But if you have an Explore, move the dial on your machine. For this tutorial, I used Medium Cardstock.

How images look when you Print then Cut with Bleed Turn ON
Doesn’t it look weird? Bleed ON

Install fine point blade, place the printed project on the mat and load it to the Cricut Machine. Remember that it has to look like in the preview.

If you an Explore Air 2 or Maker and want your machine to cut faster, switch to Fast Mode and then press the Make it – Cricut’s logo – button on your CRICUT!

At this very moment, you will see the magic happen!

The “Print then Cut” sensor will turn on, and it will start reading the frame surrounding all of the designs that we need to cut; once it’s done reading, the Cricut will cut them all.

When Cricut Design Space tells you the Cut is done, unload your Mat, remove designs from it.

There you have it..You are PRO at Printing then Cutting!

What to do if the Print Then Cut Option is Not Working

We are on our final stretch!

I honestly hope you don’t need this option, but I wanted to point you to good resources if things aren’t going the way they are supposed to.

If you are having any of these problems, check out the following steps that Cricut recommends.

Don’t forget to share the love!

If you like this post and think someone else could benefit from it, make sure to post it on your favorite social media, by doing so, you aren’t only helping someone else to learn and find cool resources, but you are also supporting my work.

learn - Whether you have Maker or Explore - how to Print and Cut images with your Cricut.
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Nick

Saturday 3rd of April 2021

I have been trying to do print and cut and I keep running into an issue where only 3 of the 4 black lines get printed on the paper. I do not know what I am doing wrong and nowhere on the internet does anyone else mention having this problem. If you have ran into this please let me know what I am doing wrong

Andrea

Monday 19th of April 2021

I had this issue yesterday. To make it work, I had to size down my picture. I hope that helps.

Catalina

Saturday 17th of April 2021

I've never run into this problem before. Have you tried to contact customer service?

Jessica

Monday 15th of March 2021

Hi! Thank you SOOOO much for this tutorial. I am having some issues though & am hoping you can help me. I am trying to make some monogram stickers. I used a yellow monogram frame from cricut access & added a text box with my monogram text in side the frame, ive welded & flattened it all, then selected the print then cut. It prints it perfectly but when I go to cut it, it cuts each individual letter, or the entire monogram and the frame separately. Im printing it on white label sticky paper and only want the yellow frame of the monogram frame cut around so I can put them on notecards. (IDK if this makes sense b/c i'm terrible trying to explain it)

Catalina

Wednesday 17th of March 2021

Are you cutting a single layer only? The yellow frame and the monogram need to be combined in a single layer when you click on "Flatten."

Dolores

Sunday 8th of November 2020

I bought the Paper studio printable vinyl, I was able to print and cut my images, but I can not use the transfer tape...it rips/or doesn't come the tape. The package instructions does say how to apply to object. Is there a trick that you can share? Dolores

Catalina

Monday 9th of November 2020

If you are using Printable Heat Transfer Vinyl, you need to buy transfer tape.. I haven't use Printable HTV, but once I do, I'll make sure to document everything.

Have a lovely day.

Shannon

Thursday 29th of October 2020

This is a great walk through! What printer and ink do you use, or what do you think works best? I have a Canon Pixma MG3620 I bought years ago, would this work for creating stickers?

Catalina

Monday 9th of November 2020

I have a HP4520 (very cheap printer). I am sure your printer will be just fine!

Danielle

Wednesday 28th of October 2020

Can I print to PDF instead of my printer? I want to print to PDF so I can have my print job done at a copy center, then bring the printed pages home and cut with my maker. I'm doing this because I want laser printing and my home computer is inkjet.

Catalina

Monday 9th of November 2020

Yes, you can! Turn on the Use System Dialog option, and click on print, a new window will open, on "Select Printer" choose Adobe PDF and click on Print.